Saturday, September 30, 2006

Money, Money, Money...

Today's Merc article covered the City Council's last minute attempt at regulating soft money. After COMPAC - the political arm of the San Jose Chamber of Commerce - successfully overturned the previous ordinance regulating electioneering activity in aid of or opposition to a candidate, SJC is left with zero regulations regarding this type of campaigning.

The Council's new attempt at an ordinance is vastly similar to its previous law except with higher thresholds for individual contributions.

Some sort of cap on soft money is absolutely imperative in terms of preserving core democratic values. It is undeniable how powerful on an impact advertising has on the electorate. Cindy Chavez was the frontrunner prior to being knocked by COMPAC's $160,000 hit pieces. Money is what amplifies our speech; without it, our expressive rights are considerably undermined. However, anti-corruption policies dictate that there be some limits to the amount of "bling-bling" given to a candidate per individual. The fear is that too large of donations create too large of influence. Uncapped donations also allow the rich too large of a say in an electoral outcome. Take for example... Dennis Fong. Fong is a property owner/manager at the Tropicana Shopping Center who was adversely affected some years back by the City's attempt at using eminent domain over the center. Fong is also famous for his Terry Gregory bribery a year or two ago that somehow tarnished Gregory's name but didn't do much to knock Fong's cred. Anyway, Fong has had more than his fair share of influence this election. He has donated his $500 to Chuck Reed's campaign. Jennie Fong - the property manager at Tropicana - donated her $500. Gloria Walker - the office manager at Fong Enterprises - donated her $500 as well. And Dennis Fong donated $26,000 to COMPAC in order to help get out these hit pieces against Cindy. The point is if you give people an opening to purchase influence, they will take every avenue they can to do so. Allowing unregulated soft money donations is going to continue to slant politicians in the direction of big dollar donors at the expense of the little guy. We, as a city, should stand up for coherent and constitutional regulations that prevent the purchase and sale of political leverage...

That being said, today is also the final day to make individual contributions to the candidates. Make sure you make your voice heard by getting whatever donation you can to your candidate BY DOING IT THE RIGHT WAY:


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